**Problems Plague the 2023 World Scout Jamboree in South Korea**
The 2023 World Scout Jamboree, held in SaeManGeum, South Korea, has been marred by various issues. With over 43,000 participants in attendance, including youth, leaders, and volunteers, the event suffered from extreme heat, dire campsite conditions, and inadequate facilities. These problems led to the withdrawal of the British and American contingents just four days into the event. This article examines the reasons behind the withdrawal and the challenges faced by the participants.
**Extreme Heat and Health Concerns**
The scorching temperatures in South Korea posed a significant risk to the participants at the World Scout Jamboree. Over 100 individuals had to be treated for heat-related illnesses, prompting calls for additional measures to provide relief. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol requested an “unlimited supply” of buses and trucks to ensure access to air conditioning and chilled water.
Recognizing the problems early on, the USA Contingent took action by partnering with the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys. They housed scouts at Camp Humphreys, providing a safer environment and military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for sustenance. However, upon arrival at the Jamboree site, the problems persisted. The USA Contingent Troop 2 from the Mid-Atlantic discovered that their planned tents and necessary gear were not provided. Consequently, they had to spend the first night on the floor and in plastic chairs in a headquarters tent. Other parents also reported that their children were not provided with food on the first night.
**Sanitary and Food Supply Concerns**
President, CEO, and 14th Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, Roger Mosby, addressed the parents in an emergency meeting and explained that the decision to withdraw was primarily due to sanitary conditions rather than the heat or rain. The USA Contingent’s departure was influenced by several key factors:
1. Oppressive heat: The insufficient shade and late provision of shade structures contributed to the campsite’s intolerable heat.
2. Food supply: Problems with food storage and inadequate calorie intake raised concerns about participants’ health and well-being.
3. Sanitation: The campsite’s poor sanitary conditions, including uncleaned toilets and showers with fecal matter, posed significant health risks. The unhygienic conditions were described as “terrible” and “deplorable.”
4. Youth protection concerns: Insufficient shower facilities led to a violation of the BSA’s Youth Protection Policy, endangering the safety of participants. This violation was particularly significant following the $2.4 billion payment by the BSA to sex abuse survivors when emerging from bankruptcy.
**Weather Risks and Medical Facilities**
In addition to the heat, the World Scout Jamboree faced other weather-related risks. The campsite was expected to be hit by a typhoon and experience torrential rain. Concerns were raised about the site’s ability to handle the rainfall, even with the ditches dug to channel runoff.
Medical facilities at the Jamboree were overwhelmed. The host country planners initially expected 500 patients per day but were instead confronted with 5,000 to 10,000 patients daily. The lack of isolation facilities for COVID-19 patients and the absence of provisions for influenza testing further raised concerns. Referrals to necessary specialists were not being made, and tracking U.S. citizens receiving treatment at local hospitals became impossible.
**Action Taken by the USA Contingent**
The safety and well-being of their participants drove the decision of the USA Contingent to withdraw from the Jamboree site. They will be transported to Camp Humphreys on August 6th, where they will continue their South Korean visit until most depart on August 12th. Accommodations at Camp Humphreys will provide a safer environment, with sleeping arrangements in air-conditioned gymnasiums and meals provided. Program activities, planned in conjunction with the American community at Camp Humphreys and the BSA Far East Council, will offer various entertainment options and cultural experiences.
The 2023 World Scout Jamboree in South Korea faced significant challenges, leading to the withdrawal of the British and American contingents. The issues of extreme heat, poor campsite conditions, inadequate facilities, and health risks posed a threat to the participants’ safety and well-being. Through swift action and assistance from the U.S. Army and the Department of State, the USA Contingent was able to relocate to Camp Humphreys, ensuring a safer and more enriching experience for all. As in previous Jamborees, participants at the 2023 event are learning to innovate in times of crisis and forging bonds amidst adversity. These experiences will undoubtedly shape their future narratives and possibly even their college application essays.